Russia ready to help North Korea

Russia is getting ready to help North Korea in connection with the railway catastrophe.

The Russian Foreign Ministry and Emergencies Ministry are considering the possibility to render urgent humanitarian aid to North Korea.

The assistance plan is to be approved by Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov in the near future. After that, all the necessary steps will be made, the government information department told RIA Novosti.

An Il-76 with humanitarian cargo, containing 10-15 tons of medicines, a thousand of blankets, 60 tents for 10 persons and 25 tents for 30 persons, can fly to North Korea already on Monday, Deputy Emergencies Minister Yuri Brazhnikov said.

After that, Russia can send construction materials to help North Korea restore the destroyed houses and other facilities.

The Russian side took a number of measures at once to help our North Korean friends, said official spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry Alexander Yakovenko. "We maintain permanent contacts with North Korea via diplomatic channels to specify the circumstances and scale of the catastrophe and the country's demands for humanitarian aid," he added.

The Russian leadership is examining this problem. Russian President Vladimir Putin sent a telegram of condolences to the Chairman of the North Korean National Defense Commission, Kim Chong-Il. "We share the grief of the victims' families and our North Korean friends," the President's telegram says.

Another telegram was sent to North Korean Foreign Minister Paek Nam-sun on behalf of his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.

On Saturday North Korea has officially confirmed the fact of the explosion at a railway station 50 kilometers from the Korean-Chinese border on April 22. This information was delivered by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) of DPRK. According to the agency, the North Korean leadership is grateful to the international community for offering humanitarian aid to those who suffered in this "destructive explosion." All in all, 154 people including 76 children were killed and over 1,300 injured in the explosion, the Chinese news agency Xinhua quoted a top-level North Korean official as saying.

Rescue works at the site of the tragedy are going on, Xinhua reported.

The explosion was caused by a short circuit, which was the result of a collision of two platforms with chemical fertilizers with an oil cistern. The collision caused the collapse of a nearby electric distributor.

"The investigation of the tragedy in underway but it is clear already that the destruction in very serious," the KCNA said on Saturday morning.

In all, 1,850 houses were utterly destroyed at the station and another 6,000 were seriously damaged.

On Friday evening North Korea officially addressed the UN for help. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan offered his condolences to the North Korean people in connection with the tragedy.

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